Traditional Uses, Therapeutic Effects and Recent Advances of Curcumin: A Mini-Review

Mini Rev Med Chem. 2020;20(12):1072-1082. doi: 10.2174/1389557520666200414161316.


Studies regarding the uses and biological benefits curcumin have long been paid worldwide attention. Curcumin is a polyphenol found in the turmeric spice, which is derived from the rhizomes of Curcuma longa. Curcumin is a major constituent of the traditional Indian holistic system, Ayurveda, and it is well-known in treating diverse ailments. The aim of this study is to conduct an overview that introduces the traditional uses and therapeutic effects of this valuable phytochemical with more focus on the antitumor results. This review was conducted based on published articles on PubMed, Medline, and Web of Science databases. In this study, the search strategy identified 103 references. Curcumin is found to possess many functions in recent years. It is commonly used for its antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antitumor, anti-diabetic, hypolipidemic, hepatoprotective, and neuroprotective effects. Curcumin has been greatly reported to prevent many diseases through modulating several signaling pathways, and the molecular bases of its anti-tumor bioactivities are imputed to the antiproliferative, anti-inflammatory, pro-apoptotic, anti-angiogenesis and anti-metastasis effects. The antitoxic potential of curcumin against various toxin like Aflatoxin B1 is reported. Although curcumin is a safe and promising phytochemical, it suffers from bioavailability problems that limit its therapeutic efficacy. Thus, various promising strategies allowed for the achievement of multiple and effective varieties of curcumin formulations, such as adjuvants, nanoparticles, liposome, micelle and phospholipid complexes, metal complexes, derivatives, and analogues. In conclusion, curcumin is widely used for myriad therapeutic purposes that trigger its significant value. This short review aims to highlight the known biological activities of curcumin and provide evidence for its antitumor effects.

Keywords: Curcumin; antioxidant; antitumor; formulations; herbal medicine; polyphenol.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antioxidants / chemistry*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Curcuma / chemistry
  • Curcuma / metabolism
  • Curcumin / chemistry*
  • Curcumin / pharmacology
  • Curcumin / therapeutic use
  • Diabetes Mellitus / drug therapy
  • Herbal Medicine
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / chemistry*
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / pathology


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Curcumin